In case you haven’t been paying attention for the past year or so you might be unaware that 2012 is a great year for MMOs with several games battling out for the title of the next big thing. BlueHole Studio is one of the strongest contenders this year with TERA. The past week has marked the end of the 4th Closed Beta Weekend and only one month remains until the official launch on the 3rd of May. And after playing for 2 whole week-ends non-stop I can say my fingers are asking for more, I can slightly feel the signs of withdrawal because the game already has me hooked. Oh and one last thing, I don’t think I can go back to playing any other MMO for a while. I can only explain it as the fact that after 20-30 hours of playing, for me “The game has changed!”
The most important thing that TERA brings on the MMO table is the combat system, a strange surprise because it has turned the modern static skill-rotation MMO genre into something different and exciting. Gone are the days of selecting a target and then using the usual rotation of skills and abilities and hoping your hit chance is higher that the target’s dodge chance. Because in TERA you have to aim your skills, you have to actually choose when to dodge/block the target’s skills, you have to keep moving, you need to keep a certain distance, you need to pay attention and make split second decisions or you will die with all your fancy equipment and high DSP/defense stats. TERA is an MMO and it also is an action game.It does its best to keep you on your toes with every battle and somehow manages to get it right.
The quest system will feel strangely familiar as it’s just the regular kill/fetch/gather 10 “insert fantasy term here”, which can be both a bad thing and a good thing depending on what you expect. It will however take you to hunting grounds all over the game world, which, by the way, seems extremely large. I didn’t mind it too much because hunting monsters felt like the heart and soul of the game, not the story, not the items, just the thrill of trying to kill stuff. It’s a rare feeling to be wearing items 5-10 levels below your own level and not minding it at all. Every other MMO out there is just plain using my greedy obsessive nature to force me to play just for the next best items.
Monsters all have their own skills and special attacks, from the piglets to the huge boss like creatures in certain areas that usually require a party to be taken down (yes, that’s usually what you would do). First time I saw one of thesehuge creatures I was a lonely level 22 mystic and I just couldn’t help myself. I charged in and even though the huge skull should have warned me, I hit it with my most damaging skill at close range for the equivalent of 0.1% of its hp. And then I ran, and I ran, and I kept running, because I learned the hard way that if I got hit I would lose anything between 20% and 60% of my HP. The next 20 minutes were some of the best moments I have ever experienced in a MMO to this day.
The boss was a huge level 20 Basilisk that had 5 or 6 special attacks. It could charge at you at a high speed, it could jump vertically into the air to deal massive damage on impact; it would jump at you trying to crush you under its weight, use flame breath to deal damage in a cone and 2 or 3 other attacks, each and every one deadlier than the previous one. All I had was moving around to avoid attacks and using a teleportation spell at most once every 10 seconds. I did get hit once in a while so I had to find time to stop running for 2-3 seconds to heal myself. Once every 5 minutes I ran out of Manaso I had to cast a 5 second spell to replenish it, a time when I couldn’t move, having a gigantic lizard trying to kill me. With palms sweating I managed to kill it after 20 minutes, keeping a damage over time spell on it at all times while running and taking advantage of the moments when, after charging, the Basilisk would fall for 2-3 seconds allowing me to close in for some extra damage. There’s more to the story but first let’s talk about PvP.
If you’re not a fan of getting ganked while questing or ganking other people then there are always the PvE realms. You can enjoy it in battleground, guild versus guild and other consensual PvP modes on both servers. However the Outlaw system is only present on PvP servers. It means a player can flag himself as an outlaw to be able to attack anyone and be attacked by anyone. The catch is that if you kill someone that’s a lot lower level than you, you get infamy points that practically lock you in outlaw mode until you get rid of them with time or by hunting monsters. In the beta phases nearly half the server had red names since nobody really cares about their characters right now but I can already see myself hunting red named outlaws after release just for fun. Plus I got one-shot several times by max level characters in the beta that I already know I’m going to hunt them down someday.
It’s time to finish the Basilisk story now. At some point when I had it at about 50% HP, a level 23 red named Beserker decides to ruin my fun. Basically a guy with a big axe comes behind me and hits me for some massive damage. I panic and blink out just as the Basilisk was charging. The guy freezes in place and gets hit head on by the huge lizard and gets knocked down. The lizard turns back towards me and now I’m trying to fight off a huge angry lizard and a guy with a big axe that’s probably pissed. Small chances you would say. That’s when “le wild idea appears”. I just start running again until the Basilisk charges again. I stop, wait for the Beserker to close in, blink out again. He gets hit head on yet again. But he’s still not dead with only 20% HP left and tries to run. I could have let him go, but why would I when I could humiliate him one final time? I run after him with the Basilisk on my back, blink next to him, use sleep on him and wait calmly for a few seconds. The raging lizards comes next to me, jumps into the air, I get out of the way and the poor guy gets crushed one final time.
So you want to know if you should be excited for TERA? All I can say is that for me it’s been a short experience that has allowed me to tell a great story to people who have not played the game, even some of my friends who don’t usually play MMOs and they were all intrigued. I don’t know what will happen after release or how the game fares on the long run towards end-game content but I know for sure TERA does bring something new and exciting to the MMO table.
Alexandru DinuTERA - Preview,